Raise the bar for student achievement with a breakthrough academic language learning platform that has delivered significant gains with as little as three hours of instruction.
The Academic Language Learning (ALL) Model
Speak Agent is a unique intervention that combines instructional technology, research-based pedagogy, and a classroom-tested implementation methodology that together accelerate academic language learning. Knowledge and fluency with relevant vocabulary and syntax, in turn, supports mastery of key academic concepts in math, reading, science, social studies, career education, and other subjects.
Speak Agent's Academic Language Learning (ALL) model is designed for all learners. That's because academic language is nobody's first language. Mastery of new concepts requires a comprehensive language development approach that includes reading, writing, speaking, and listening, among other skills and learning modes (Graves, 2009; Nisbet & Austin, 2013).
Bravo et al. (2007) showed that academic concept knowledge develops in a particular sequence of steps. It begins with students familiarizing themselves with new concepts and related vocabulary and syntax. It then progresses to developing comprehension and finally to applying the language in context. Such a progression can lead to active control of academic language. It progresses from passive control (understanding a word's basic meaning) to active control (applying a word or concept in varied contexts).
Multimodal Learning Redefined
Multimodal learning is a catalyst for this process. Too often academic language is treated as a list of definitions to be memorized, not as complex concepts to be unpacked. In Speak Agent, "multimodal" combines traditional aural, verbal, and textual aspects of language learning (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) with visual, kinesthetic, reflective, experiential, and collaborative learning modes. These multiple modes provide the scaffolds that diverse learners need, both in guided instruction and independent practice.
Successful concept acquisition requires exposure through oral and written resources in multiple contexts aligned to the curriculum (Peregoy & Boyle, 2013). In Speak Agent, activities are digital templates that can be populated with your words and content. The activities then develop foundational skills and knowledge using the targeted concepts, vocabulary, syntax, and context that align with curriculum resources and standards such as CCSS, NGSS, TEKS/STAAR, Engage NY, CPALMS, WIDA, and CA ELD. (Speak Agent can handle the content development and alignment process.)
Evidence-Based Learning Strategies
By implementing proven multimodal learning strategies in the context of your curriculum, students can overcome the academic language barrier. Game-based learning is one key strategy. It converts what would normally be an insurmountable challenge into a challenge that is both achievable and desirable. As one teacher observed during a recent NSF-sponsored study, “For students who are behind academically or struggle with technology ... once they start playing [Speak Agent games], they get really engaged and don’t want to stop!”
Speak Agent also supports a growth mindset that inspires and provides room for student agency, curiosity, creativity, and exploration. In its evaluation report, Rockman et al reported that teachers observed students engaging in the content by "asking questions about challenging topics, and wanting to look up additional information on their own time." Students even created their own experiments based on content introduced in Speak Agent.
The combination of multimodal, game-based learning, project-based learning, peer collaboration, and many other evidence-based strategies creates a whole greater than the sum of its parts. It delivers better academic language outcomes by engaging students in drawing connections between curricular content and the world they experience.
How the ALL Model Works
The ALL model is composed of several layers:
- The foundation of the model is a broad array of proven academic language learning strategies. These strategies fall into one of nine categories, as shown above.
- Each strategy is expressed by a variety of multimodal learning tasks with multisensory supports that develop reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills critical to language development.
- Students and teachers put the strategies and multimodal learning into practice by interacting with customizable digital games, creative projects, and other engaging academic language learning activities. Each activity is a template that we tailor with digital content. Teachers generally have broad flexibility whether to use the activities in guided instruction, independent practice, or group collaboration.
- Speak Agent customizes the content to fit your curriculum for each targeted subject/course, level, and standards. Digital lessons are tagged and searchable however you need them to be. This content development and alignment process is part of Speak Agent's standard implementation.